"Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the
stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this
subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and
The easy thing to pick out amongst Trans Iowa's fifth running was that it was held out of a new location. That town was Williamsburg, Iowa. I've told the story several times already about why it was David Pals and I decided to move Trans Iowa out of Decorah. Basically, we were rejected by one of the leading figures in cycling there at the time, and unfortunately, he was also one of Trans Iowa's earliest supporters and mentors. Getting rejected by "Deke" Gosen hurt, but we forged ahead with optimism that Williamsburg would be a great place for a fresh, new start.
Then reality set in. The town of Williamsburg thought we were fruitcakes and cycling events were weird. Cold shoulders and unfriendly looks were all we could find in that town as we hit up businesses and the City government as we went looking for help to find a venue for our pre-race meeting. I remember the meeting we had with a local sports bar and how we felt really down afterward. That pretty much characterized our entire experience with Williamsburg. It seemed that we were going to have to hold a pre-race meeting right out at the start line. And, in fact, that was the official plan as late as two weeks out from the event.
Since there was "no room at the inn" for a Trans Iowa pre-race meeting in Williamsburg, the plan was that I was going to be at a motel lobby near I-80, just North of Williamsburg, to hand out pre-race bags with the all important cue sheets. We even thought about having David sit at another motel lobby nearby to split the duties up, and catch more riders where they were staying, but that plan was put on hold till the last second. David was wanting to put in one, final effort to secure a spot where we could hold a proper pre-race meeting.
So, where were we going to hold the meeting? Well, we had found out during recon that Williamsburg had a cemetery located just on the outskirts of the village South on our way toward Checkpoint #1. We had thought about starting the event in town, but given the fact that the town fathers were so cold to our event, and that Trans Iowa had ended at a cemetery before (v3), why not start at one? Had David not accomplished the miracle he did, this is where the pre-race meeting would have been held.
That miracle was that David, somehow or another, talked someone into letting us have a meeting room in the second level of the local Municipal Community Center. I cannot recall that we had to pay anything for it, but if we did, it was a minimal amount. David pretty much handled all those details, so I am a bit foggy on that bit.
The point was, we had a room! That said, we were strictly told that there would be no allowances for food or drink whatsoever. We had some chairs, but we were responsible for the setting up and putting away of those, and we had a time limit which we had to meet in order to get the space. Any deviance or after-the-fact clean-up required by the staff of the Community Center would incur costs on our part. But, we had a room!
While relief and happiness at the eleventh hour obtaining of the room was felt, David and I were not very pleased at all with the village of Williamsburg. Contrasted to the previous year, where we had cooks making spaghetti sauce in two flavors and reducing it all day, where we had beer and food, and a welcoming atmosphere, this austere, no frills meeting was a big let-down in our eyes. This was not David's, nor my idea of a Trans Iowa experience. This rejection and struggle with the village was not forgotten, and it pretty much guaranteed that T.I.v5 would be a one-off affair. The following Trans Iowa events would be held somewhere else, we knew that. Where that would be could wait. We had an event to put on first. Next: The One-Off: Subterfuge At The Meeting